Fourteen recipients of the Medal of Honor, America’s highest military decoration, published an open letter at the Washington Examiner website that called into question Democrat Sen. Richard Blumenthal’s promise to subject President Trump’s Supreme Court nominee, Judge Neil Gorsuch, to "extreme vetting" in the looming confirmation hearings by the Senate Judiciary Committee next week. The letter from the medal recipients affirmed that the Senate has the “right and obligation” to review Supreme Court nominees, but added, “it is our right as Americans and veterans to scrutinize your hypocrisy in doing so.”
Several years ago, it was revealed that Blumenthal had falsely claimed to have Vietnam War-era combat experience as a Marine. In reality, Blumenthal never got any closer to Vietnam than Washington State, where he handed out teddy bears for the USMC’s Toys for Tots give-away. President Trump called out Blumenthal for the error in a tweet that read: "Sen. Richard Blumenthal, who never fought in Vietnam when he said for years he had (major lie), now misrepresents what Judge Gorsuch told him?"
The letter from the medal recipients went on to say, “We are veterans of the Vietnam War. We fought alongside our brothers in arms, many of whom died or were gravely injured there. We saw the treatment meted out on us and our fellow military personnel upon our return, yet we never questioned our commitment to our nation's freedom. But perhaps more relevant to this discussion is that we know you were not there with us.”
The letter made the charge, “The fact you repeatedly and consistently claimed to have served in Vietnam is a gross case of stolen valor in our opinion. You obtained at least five military deferments between 1965 and 1970, at least two of which were seemingly political favors to you so that you could avoid joining us in a war zone.” The letter quoted several statements made publicly by Blumenthal in which he claimed to have served in Vietnam. For example, the letter quoted you in a 2008 New York Time article: “We have learned something important since the days I served in Vietnam ..." Blumenthal, when challenged about his statements, claimed to have made a misstatement.
“You should be proud that you shared a uniform with so many brave souls who endured the hardships of war, but instead you chose to attempt to deceitfully and craftily join their ranks with your intentionally vague statements and false claims.”
“Valor is too uncommon a commodity, and too precious a virtue, to be stolen by those who have not paid the high price for freedom. We recognize that some concerns over any appointee, especially the Supreme Court, are honest and legitimate.
“You, sir, are neither. If you ever had a sense of duty, if ever you respected the service and sacrifice of others, then please recognize your duty now: Sen. Blumenthal, "take your seat"!
The open letter was signed by the following Medal of Honor recipients:
Retired Command Sgt. Maj. Bennie Adkins, U.S. Army, Auburn, Ala.
Retired Col. Don "Doc" Ballard, U.S. Army, Grain Valley, Mo.
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Retired Maj. Gen. Pat Brady, U.S. Army, New Braunfels, Texas
Retired Col. Bruce Crandall, U.S. Army, Manchester, Wash.
Retired Sgt. 1st Class Sammy Davis, U.S. Army, Freedom, Ind.
Retired Col. Wesley Fox, U.S. Marine Corps, Peoria, Ill.
Retired Col. Harold Fritz, U.S. Army, Peoria, Ill.
Retired Maj. Gen. Jim Livingston, U.S. Marine Corps, Mount Pleasant, S.C.
Retired Command Sgt. Maj. Bob Patterson, U.S. Army, Pace, Fla.
Retired Sgt. Maj. Kenneth Stumpf, U.S. Army, Tomah, Wis.
Retired Maj. James Taylor, U.S. Army, Trinity Center, Calif.
Retired Lt. Mike Thornton, U.S. Navy, Dallas
Retired Col. Leo Thorsness, U.S. Air Force, St. Augustine, Fla.
Retired Col. Jay Vargas, U.S. Marine Corps, San Diego
The above recipients'r Medal citations can be read at www.cmohs.org.